The oldest monkey living in the Save the Chimpanzees sanctuary is celebrating her birthday. Emily will be fifty-seven years old this month.
Emily, the chimpanzee, was born in the wild, her exact date of birth is unknown, but it was supposedly in 1964. Chimpanzee mothers are very protective of their offspring, so the only way to catch a cub in the wild would be to kill its mother and any other members of the group who were in the way. Emily was sold to a laboratory and forced to live a very different life than she had known before. In May 1968, she arrived at the Coulston Foundation for Biomedical Research. There she was used for ocular ʀᴇꜰʀᴀᴄᴛɪᴏɴ and “ᴄʟᴀssɪꜰɪᴇᴅ ᴅʀᴜɢ ᴇᴠᴀʟᴜᴀᴛɪᴏɴ” research.
She entered the breeding program at a very young age of about seven and gave birth to three babies. Chimpanzee Emily was noted as an excellent mother to her newborns, breastfeeding them, caring for them, and lovingly playing with their arms and legs. Despite their bond, her cubs were still taken from her at one to five days old to be raised by humans in a kennel laboratory.
Her life changed when she was among 21 chimpanzees ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇᴅ of the Chimpanzee Ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ Foundation from the Air Force in 2001. The organization purchased one hundred and fifty acres of land in Fort Pierce, Florida, and created a sanctuary where animals can roam and live close to their usual habitat. More than 330 chimpanzees have been living in the refuge since its inception. Most of the animals lived most of their lives alone in tiny cages before entering the sanctuary. Now they live in twelve separate family groups on dozens of different three-acre islands. There they are free to walk around, interacting with other chimpanzees and enjoying life in nature with complete freedom of movement.
After her release, Emily was not allowed to raise her children. Still, she later had the opportunity to play the role of Angie, grandmother of J.B. and Jude ꜰᴏsᴛᴇʀ, children ʙᴏʀɴ in STC because of a failure ᴠᴀsᴇᴄᴛᴏᴍʏ. The parent-child relationship is powerful. They spend much time together, care and play together like a real family.
What a remarkable chimpanzee. She has overcome many hardships in her life, but now, at fifty-seven, she can finally enjoy the comfort of old age with her grandchildren in her posh abode.